Artists and Department of Sports, Arts and Culture reach stalemate over Presidential Stimulus funds

As artists demand  disbanding of new NAC board

By Edward Tsumele

The battle between enraged artists and the beleaguered National Arts Council over the Presidential Economic Stimulus Package is far from being over. This became clear last night at a heated meeting between artists, the Department of Arts and Culture and the NAC over the PESP debacle.

Called by DSAC where the minister was initially supposed to address artists, but cancelled at the last minute, and instead sent DASC officials Acting Director general Vusi Ndima, Chief director of cultural Industries Charles Mabaso and Dumisani Tshabalala senior official at DSAC, no resolution over the sticking issues was reached.

If anything, it appears as If the gap between artists that have been campaigning at NAC for two weeks now, and the NAC is in fact increasing.

At issue here is the slow pace of disbursing funds, the reduction of fans that have been granted initially for projects, in a bid to accommodate more artists, the discrepancies between the money that has been allocated and the funds still remaining in the NAC account, as well as non arts companies receiving funding.

Another issue that is increasing the gulf between the authorities and the arts community is simply inefficiencies within the NAC management team where its Chief Financial Officer and its Chief executive officer are currently on suspension, p[ending investigation.

The artists are also demanding that NAC releases reasons for the suspension of the arts executives, as well as releasing a list of projects approved and the amounts they received.

The meeting last night was not without drama though, as two Council Members Avril Joffe and Tshepo Mashiane were singled out for arrogance and speaking with a wrong tone by enraged artists.

Joffe who denied that she spoke in a condescending tone apologised at the end.

At the end though many artists were disappointed that Minister of Arts and Culture, as initially believed would attend the meeting di d not sure up at this Zoom meeting to iron out the teething issues in the arts.

“We have taken all the points you have made and some of the criticism, and we are not taking them personally. It has been a learning curve. Some mistakes have happened. Please allow as opportunity to see how best we can fix the mistakes,” Ndima said.

“We have passed the stage of the compromise. We demand the immediate suspension of the present NAC. Can we say we have reached a stalemate. We want results. Go now we will wit here. We need an administrator. The people who are doing this job, we do not trust them,” said South African United Creative and Cultural Industries Federation Sibongile Mngoma.

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